To help students, Wichita State extending office hours

10/31/2013 9:51 AM

10/31/2013 9:52 AM

As a working guy with a wife and two boys, the last thing Charles Dresie needs are barriers to getting a university education.

Wichita State University said Thursday that it is removing a few barriers their leaders say they never should have put up to slow nearly 15,000 students.

Starting Monday, many WSU student services offices will stay open until 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Those offices have been closing at 5 p.m.

President John Bardo hopes this shift in hours will grow enrollment by making WSU look more convenient to thousands of potential students, especially adult learners.

Dresie is a 42-year-old with a heavy schedule and life ambitions. He has a full-time job in the aerospace industry and takes 12 hours of classes at WSU, which makes him a full-time student, which makes him busy and tired.

Besides his own studies, he helps his sons with homework and shows up for school athletics activities six days a week.

“I like to joke that my wife and sons allow me to study from 9 p.m. to midnight on weekdays,” he said.

He says WSU’s shift in hours will make college more convenient, to him and probably to many other working people considering college.

“The two things that jump out about how this will help are in the areas of student advising and financial aid,” he said. “They say they want to ramp up enrollment by doing this. I think it will make a difference to a lot of people.”

The only reason he was able in the past to get away from work to register and get academic counseling at WSU was because his bosses chose to be understanding. They let him go get WSU’s services before 5 p.m.

“Thank God for understanding bosses,” he said.

Now he can get those services after work.

Bardo said WSU kept those offices open in the distant past, but drifted years ago into shutting their doors at 5 p.m. It never should have done that, he said. It probably kept some busy people from enrolling, so it wasn’t smart business for a university serving many working people and where enrollment long ago flattened out below 15,000

Of WSU’s 14,550 students this semester, 5,413 — more than 37 percent — are age 25 or older and probably working full or part-time jobs in the Wichita area, said Joe Kleinsasser, a WSU spokesman.

WSU thinks there are a lot more of them out there who are not enrolled. They are a key component in Bardo’s plans to grow enrollment to 22,000 in the next few years. Bardo moved back the office hours to serve all students, but is hoping the new hours will help make WSU look more inviting to those 5,413 adult learners and many more working people.

Some offices that will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays include Admissions, Graduate School, Financial Aid, Registrar, Shocker Card Center, Tuition and Fees, University Bookstore, Counseling and Testing Center, Cooperative Education and Work-Based Learning, Student Health and Student Involvement, Kleinsasser said in a statement Thursday.

All colleges will offer academic advising by appointment on the same extended schedule, the statement said.

Dresie is a project engineer at Automation Plus, a local aerospace company. He’s majoring in business administration, he said, not only to advance his skills but to set an example for his sons, 11 and 8. He hopes to graduate in May.

He hopes they go to college too.

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